KillerHipHop Exclusive: Drumma Boy Interview
D Boy Fresh has been cookin’ up beats for some of hip-hop’s most successful artists. Drumma has been instrumental in the success of chart toppers such as “Put On,” “Money To Blow,” and “No Hands.” His unique hard hitting sound has made him one of hip-hop’s biggest go-to producers.
During our conversation, he talked about his musical upbringing, the influence of classical music on his work, working with Kanye in the near future, his friendship with 2 Chainz, and more. Hit the jump for our exclusive interview with Drumma Boy.
QuezKHH: You recently conducted the Memphis Symphony orchestra. How was that experience like for you?
Drumma Boy: The experience was amazing man. Definitely a good feeling. It’s crazy because they practically saw me [grow up]. The knew my father before I was even in existence to the world. They saw them when they had me. I was going to a lot of orchestra performances since 1 and 2 years old and all the way through my early childhood through my later teenage years. [It was great] for them to see my growth and the way I’ve progressed throughout the years and started being a producer. I could’ve been in the orchestra. I was offered a place in the youth symphony orchestra. But I wanted to write my own stuff and compose and conduct my own music so to speak. Conduct my career which I’ve been doing as Drumma Boy. It was just an honor and a privilege to go back home and conduct the orchestra with Jonathan Mannion and then catch my father before he actually retired. Man, I can’t explain. It was definitely one of the best feelings in the world.
KHH: You grew up around a lot of Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. How has classical music influenced your hip-hop producing?
Drumma: It’s a key ingredient in a lot of the inspiration. It gives me no limits to ideas. It gives me eternal imagination so to speak because it opens my mind so diversely and so broad to where I don’t see boundaries. Listening to only one particular style of music, I think you can set a boundary on your mind and mentally think that you’re bored or that you’re tired of a certain type of music. It’s almost like listening to the radio station too long. You get programmed. If you listen to it 365 days a year, you’re going to get tired. Like man, this radio station. It’s going to burn you out. I think that by coming from such a diverse culture of music, from the orchestra world and the Bach’s and the Beethoven’s, just a world of the most complex music, it almost gives me immunity to boredom, to music. To answer the question, I think it definitely has a lot to do with my production and my inspiration. It all starts with an idea. From that idea I bring things into existence.
KHH: Like you talked about, you were born into a very musical family. Do you think that you would be where you are today if you were born into a different family?
Drumma: It’s hard to say where I would be if I was born into a different family. I think everybody forges their path or their journey, and everybody has a certain background to dwell on. You utilize that background, whether it was a positive background or a negative background. A lot of people that I’ve seen have turned a background that was negative in their prior generation into a positive because they didn’t want to be like that. You have some people that were inspired by negative backgrounds and vice-versa. It’s all about choices and the choices that you accept. It’s very important that you have people around you that believe in the best for you. Persuasion and peer pressure can easily divert you to the wrong path. Regardless of what family you come from, you still got a lot of choices to make whether you got the wrong or right pieces. I’ve known people too, that have great family backgrounds, great opportunity to be the best person that they can be and still blow it all off because they had the wrong people around them. I don’t think necessarily that any one thing is the reason that I’m successful. You can go over a list of details that contribute to success and they all include different conversations from talent to patience to determination to being eager for knowledge and the ability to teach one’s self. So many people depend on life to teach them or consequences to teach them or another teacher to teach them as opposed to having the curiosity and having the eagerness to teach yourself. It’s just a lot of different things that contribute to the success. To answer your question, yes, it contributes to my success.
KHH: So when you step into the studio to make a beat, how do you start?
Drumma: However I feel. That’s how I’ve always made beats. I felt like making a snare first (snare sounds). Sometimes I’ve started in making the keyboard notes first. Sometimes I might’ve started with the kick first. It’s never a limit. I just do it however I feel like doing it. Like a painter, a painter isn’t going to start with red everytime he makes a painting. Sometimes he may start with blue, might be green, might be a mixture of red-orange. It may be all black then he puts white on it then he starts adding colors. It may be all white, then he puts black on it, then do other colors. It’s never just a set way. He might do watercolor sometimes, might do oil paints sometimes. It’s the same thing with music. You want to paint the picture and deliver the idea. I’ll start a piece from acapella, from just all vocal. That’s how I did “Standing Ovation.” I had to make the beat around the vocals because the original beat was sold. It’s no limit man. You have to be the most versatile that’s living. I feel like I’m one of the most versatile producers living. I have yet to demonstrate, many yet to come.
KHH: During an interview with Tim Westwood, you mentioned that Kanye had reached out to you. That was back in March, have you had the chance to hit the studio with him yet?
Drumma: Nah, I haven’t gotten in the studio with Kanye yet. It’s been a lot of mutual respect. He’s cool with the homie 2 Chainz. I’ve been so busy and it’s kind of hard to slow down. So definitely, if he hits me up to do some work in the studio, that’ll be cool. We’ve been going back and forth on email. I’ve emailed him a couple of tracks. He told me a couple of them were dope and he was going to listen to them and see what he could come up with and stuff like that. But we actually haven’t had time to sit down with each other yet.
KHH: What projects are you currently working on?
Drumma: Right now I’m working with Chris Brown. Recently we released a song on iTunes called “Oh Yeah” featuring Snoop Dogg and 2 Chainz. It’s on iTunes now, so definitely support that. I’m working on Ja’s album. I’m working on 2 Chainz’ album. I just did some more tracks on Wiz Khalifa’s album and I got a mixtape coming out on the 4th of July called ‘Drumma Boy’s 4th of July’ playlist. We’ll be leaking records. We broke “No Hands” on this playlist. We broke “Beat It Up” [by]Gucci Mane & Trey Songz. That Usher record, “Stranger,” we broke that. So stay tuned for that. You can download that mixtape at my website, and it’ll also be available at LiveMixtapes.com.
KHH: Who are we going to see on that mixtape?
Drumma: Man you’re going to see everybody: Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, and 2 Chainz. I got Future. I got myself, Tip, and Gangsta Boo. Everybody.
KHH: One of the hottest tracks you got out right now is “Spend It” by 2 Chainz. How’s it like working with him?
Drumma: It’s real fun. It reminds me of working with Gucci Mane. They got a lot to say, so many slangs, slogans, phrases, and metaphors. He’s definitely a fun rapper. A rapper that always makes me smile. I can’t think of one 2 Chainz verse I’ve heard and [haven't] smiled or smirked one time. Like, haha, he’s stupid. He’s just going to say something stupid, say something silly. It’s definitely fun and easy to work with him.
KHH: You said you were working on Based On A T.R.U. Story, and you also worked on his mixtape, T.R.U. REALigion. Is there a difference between working on a mixtape and working on an album?
Drumma: Nah. To me it’s just about the sound that you want. A lot of times it’s all on an idea or a certain feel that they have for an album or a mixtape. It’s about setting a tone. It’s more like, what mood are you in? It’s more like an inscent. All of the inscents are the same, and all of the inscents are going to light the same. But which one do you want to light? What mood are you in? You want vanilla inscent, you want strawberry inscent? Which one do you want to light up at that particular time.
KHH: You’ve had a lot of success working with Jeezy, Gucci Mane, and Waka Flocka. Do you have a favorite person that you like to work with?
Drumma: Nah man. I just have so much fun working, period. I think my favorite person to work with is music. As long as I’m doing some kind of form of that. Even in movies, a lot of people are telling me I should do acting and this and that. So I’m definitely thinking about jumping in some movies. But doing what I want to do, not doing what people see me doing or see me as. I want to feel comfortable and do whatever I want to do. Whether it’s one movie in my whole lifetime or whether it’s 50.
KHH: Year after year, you’ve had hit after hit. What’s your key to longevity?
Drumma: Consistency. That’s the biggest key to anything. Longevity is being consistent. And by being consistent, [I'm] doing what I love and put music out that fans will forever appreciate.